Tuning in to Sound Quality - Solutions

I hope you enjoyed listening to Tuning in to Sound Quality.
The solutions to all 20 tutorial recordings are listed below.

Christopher Lloyd Clarke
Author of Tuning in to Sound Quality and founder of Enlightened Audio.

Important - please read before you start reviewing the answers

Remember that are free to use your own terminology when describing the problems you hear. Make sure you reward yourself with a tick of correctness even if we describe the same problem using different words. I'd also like to point out that it's not a big deal if you make lots of mistakes the first time around. After you review the solutions you are bound to do MUCH better the second time around. This is a learning process, not an exam you need to pass. The solutions are an important part of that process.


1. Proximity effect
Music: none

The sound of my voice is too boomy and bassy. You might have also described the sound as "unclear" or "muffled" for example. This is due to what is called the "proximity effect" and is the result of positioning my mouth too close to the microphone (3 inches or less). My voice often sounds soft and a bit bass heavy, but in this recording my poor microphone technique has overly exaggerated that bass.


2. Perfect recording
Music: Deepest Mind

There is nothing wrong with this recording. Did you get this one right?


3. Momentary noise - car passing by
Music: The Essence of Peace

Around halfway through this recording a car can be heard passing by in the distance. You'll hear it most prominently just after as I speak the words "all juicy inside". I love that zen quotation. It always gives me a laugh.


4. Voice is too quiet
Music: Letting Go 

The balance between the volume of the music and the volume of my voice is wrong. You can award yourself a correct answer if you said that my voice was too quiet OR if you said that the music was too loud. It's interesting to note that, even though the voice is quiet, you can still understand what is being said. This can fool some people into thinking that there is nothing wrong with this recording.


5. Clipping distortion
Music: None 
The sound of my voice is fuzzy at times. Not all the time, but in some of the louder moments you will hear distortion. This effect is too subtle for some people to hear so try to tune in as I say the words "We see though it, we see all things". This problem is due to the fact that I had my microphone turned up too loud while recording (to use the correct vernacular, my microphone "input gain" was too high).


6. Stationary noise - computer fan
Music: The Joy of Creation

While I am speaking, a constant white noise sound can be heard in the background. It's due to the fact that my laptop computer was just a couple of feet from the microphone and its internal fans make a racket sometimes. This sound can be tricky to hear at first, especially if you are listening at a quiet volume. If you missed this one, try turning up the volume and listen again. You'll hear the noise cut in as I start speaking and cut out as I finish.


7. Stationary noise - rumbling
Music: Heavens gate

Who knows what caused this rumbling noise? Perhaps a herd of rhinos were charging nearby, or more realistically, perhaps an industrial air conditioning unit was sending vibrations through the walls and floor. Whatever the case you should be able to hear a deep rumbling sound while I am speaking. This low frequency noise can be tricky to hear if you are listening at a quiet volume. It will become more obvious at louder volumes, especially if you are listening with headphones. If you cannot hear this rumbling at all, then it is possible that your headphones or speakers are not capable of reproducing these low frequency sounds. 


8. Excess reverberation
Music: Tribal Eve
In this recording there is too much reverberation on my voice. You might have described this as "echo" or used some other term to describe the sound of a large acoustic space around my voice. Any answer along these lines is correct. Reverb is a commonly used effect on voice recordings. Used sparingly it can really enhance the sound of your voice, but if used to excess then it can spoils things. Some people like the sound of reverb on their voice, but I caution against its use in hypnosis and meditation recordings. That "spacey" sound might seem cool for a while, but most listeners tire of it quickly.


9. Perfect recording
Music: Deep Within

There is nothing wrong with this recording. I made this recording quite long too, so you might have been straining your ears over that one. How mean of me! Did you get this one right?


10. Momentary noise - dog barking
Music: Daydreams

In this short recording you should be able to hear a dog barking in the background. What a way to ruin a perfectly good moment of Zen!


11. Plosives
Music: Floating
I recorded this short passage without a microphone windshield, which resulted in some very nasty plosives - small blasts of air from my mouth - which ruined the words "practice" and "putting". Award yourself a correct answer even if you didn't describe the problem as "plosives". As long as you heard a problem with these words, you got it right. 


12. Thin sounding voice
Music: Heaven and Earth

I sat too far away from the microphone (over 2 feet) which resulted in a very thin sounding voice recording. It's missing all the bass that gives my voice fullness and you can also hear a little more of the sound of the natural room echo around me. The sound of this recording is not terrible, but it doesn't have the sense of intimacy and fullness that the other recordings have. 


13. Momentary noise - creaking chair
Music: None
If only I'd used a more solid chair, rather than this creaky adjustable one. Did you hear the creaking sounds during that recording? A creak or two might be passable over the course of a full length recording provided that they were quiet, but if your recording was peppered with constant creaking then you'd have to throw it out and start again. Lesson learned. Test your chair before you record.


14. Poor editing
Music: Adrift
Some of the words in this recording have been clipped short, either at the start or the end. This is due to poor audio editing. For example, in the phrase "...oneness of body and mind", the end of the word "mind" has accidentally been trimmed short. Likewise the start of the word "Breath" has been clipped. There's also a little editing glitch between the words "tool which". The lesson here is to be careful if you need to re-record a passage and insert it in between something you recorded earlier. A little care while editing will prevent glitches like these with ease.


15. Music too quiet
Music: Celestial Light
There is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to balancing the volume of your voice with the background music, but in this example I've gone a bit too far. The music should be about 5 - 10 decibels louder. I'd like to remind you that, when it comes to hypnosis and meditation recordings, music that is too quiet is far more preferable than music that is too loud. Even the most relaxing music can become disruptive if played too loudly, but playing it too quietly is not likely to cause any major problems.  


16. Stationary noise - hissing
Music: None 
There is a persistent hissing sound throughout this voice recording. Perhaps this is the result of a faulty microphone cable, or perhaps my microphone is being subjected to electronic interference from my computer? A stationary noise such as this can sometimes be masked by the background music you use, but in this case the hissing is simply too prominent to be masked and this recording has been spoiled. It's unlikely that a problem like this will ever crop up in your recordings, but if it ever does you'll be sure to recognize it now. 


17. Perfect recording
Music: Enlighten Me
Another one with no noticeable problems to report.


18. Perfect recording
Music: The Ecstasy of Being

Some people will conclude that the music is too quiet in this recording, but it's not. It's certainly quieter than most of the other recordings but it is within the range of acceptable balance. The purpose of this recording is to demonstrate just how broad this range is. Perhaps you might even prefer the music to be this quiet? This really is a matter of taste. If you were listening closely, you might have also noticed some "mouth clicks" in this recording (and in many of the other recordings in this tutorial). These are tiny clicking sounds that often occur when one's lips and gums are moving. They are certainly not bad enough to spoil this recording, so we can pass it with flying colours.   


19. Aeroplane invasion!
Music: The Temple Gardens
The distant drone of an aeroplane passing by can be heard during a good portion of this recording. The background music may be unfamiliar to you so perhaps you thought that this distant droning sound might have been a part of the music. I can assure you that it is not. Whether you identified this sound or not, I'm sure that if you had reviewed this voice recording without the background music, you would have heard the offending sound. It really sticks out once you know it's there.

Why did I let the music play on for so long by itself? Why not! It's just so relaxing I couldn't help myself.


20. Muffled sounding voice
Music: A Soothing Caress
The sound of my voice is very muffled and lacking in clarity. In other words, much of the treble is missing. This might have been caused by a poor quality microphone, or by failure to remove one's motorcycle helmet prior to recording.


Rate your score

16 - 20 correct answers
Wow! What an exceptional result. Your listening skills and listening equipment are clearly up to the task of creating professional quality recordings.


12 - 15 correct answers
A very good effort indeed. Most people make a good number of mistakes during their first attempt, so you can feel very happy with this result. I suggest that you repeat the entire tutorial and, without looking back at the answers, see if you can improve your score. I bet you can. 


8 - 11 correct answers
You've obviously done well with some of your answers, but missed the mark with others. This is a good result but there is room for improvement. You'll get that improvement by repeating the tutorial again. Try to get at least 13 answers right and you 'll feel a lot more confident about creating high quality recordings. Be sure to read the tips below before trying again.


7 or fewer correct answers
It's possible that either your listening skills need more work or that your listening equipment (headphones and/or speakers) are not good enough for you to hear the problems. Try re-listening to the entire tutorial while reading the solutions at the same time so that you can tune in to the various problems. If you still can't improve your score then I suggest that you either (a) upgrade your listening equipment, or (b) get your recordings done at a professional studio. Please also read the tips below before trying again. What is your score the second time around? What about the third? I bet you see dramatic improvement very quickly!


Tips to improve your score the second time around

Tip 1. Many people find that they can hear problems more clearly if they listen using headphones rather than open speakers.
Tip 2. Don't be afraid to turn up the volume while you are reviewing the recordings. Obviously you would normally listen to a meditation or hypnosis recording at a quiet volume, but for the purpose of critical review, a louder volume will really help you.